A Honda recall announced Friday affects 646,000 of the Japanese automaker's compact Fit hatchbacks of the 2007-2008 model year. Roughly a fifth of the vehicles are in the United States, according to a report by the Dow Jones Newswires. Models from 2009-10 are not affected.
The problem involves the driver's master power-window switch. It can overheat and cause fire when it makes contact with "excessive" liquid, Honda says, like a heavy rain, for example. Seven such incidents have been confirmed in the US, none causing human harm, says Honda spokeswoman Christina Ra. A person was killed in South Africa in 2009 in what Honda suspects was a problem with the switch, Ms. Ra said, although the fire damage to the car was too great to ascertain the root cause of the problem.
So what should you do if your Honda Fit is on the recall list?
Ra says Fit drivers should be conscious about just how much liquid gets on the switch, but she added that only "extreme" amounts could trigger a problem. Drivers are not advised to bring their cars in to dealers just yet, because they don't yet have the requisite parts. Only 10 percent of the models will need new switches, according to the Dow Jones article, while the rest will require the installation of a water-tight skirt to keep the switch dry.
Fit owners will soon receive a mailing from the company with further instructions, Ra said.
A Monitor staffer who drives a Honda Fit noted that the car's sleek design makes for a shallow angle between the interior driver-side door and the roof, letting rain fall directly into the car with the window down. The Fit can be equipped with door visors for about $75.